A newly formed drug prevention group in Lexington hopes to see a reduction in substance abuse through increased youth activity. It’s based on what’s known as the “Iceland Model.”
Youth Addiction Prevention, or YAP, organized this past spring. Lexington physcian Bill Dake said YAP is working to enlist street-level interest in Iceland’s approach to dealing with youth substance use. Dake said it involves providing "leisure cards" to young people to spend on such things as athletics, arts, or horseback riding. “By giving kids healthy constructive things to do has been shown in Iceland to reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption dramatically,” said Dake.
Dake said the hope is that such an approach in a community like Lexington could also help lessen opiate use. Dake said the cost of supporting leisure cards for young people pales in comparison to costs for treating addiction and human and economic losses in the case of overdose deaths. “We know that the Lexington-Fayette County EMS, they spend about a million dollars a year just taking drug overdose victims to the emergency room and that’s not ever counting the care the patient gets once they get to the ER,” Dake said.
Dake said members of YAP are trying to identify other costs of addiction so people can understand the status quo is expensive.
The next meeting of Youth Addiction Prevention is scheduled Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. at HealthFirst Bluegrass on Southland Drive. The meeting is open to the public.
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